Newark English Teacher's Innovative Literacy Program Awarded $1,500

The award itself is named in memory of Judith F. Krug, a librarian who dedicated her career at the American Library Association to protecting the freedom of speech.

Floyd's program features a variety of learning and engagement opportunities for students to get involved with literacy. Some of the Newark educator's creative ways to get students interested in literacy have included the use of Socratic seminars and discussion panels with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. 

She articulates the essential idea that in books, youth who lack hope and positive influences can find positive motivation, examples, and influences.  

"I do what I do because I want just to just save everyone. I want to save all the youth," she said. "That’s my focus."

The Newark educator's trailblazing program didn't come without inspiration though. 

Two driving factors to establish it, she said, came from both her mother and husband. 

Growing up, Floyd reminisced on stories from her mother who went through trials and tribulations of her own. She recalled her mother telling her that when she would seek help from teachers and counselors at her own school, she was met with little to no assistance.

"She lived with a lot of scars and injuries from her childhood," Floyd said. “Growing up and listening to her stories, I always wanted to save the children.” 

In February last year, her husband died due to respiratory complications, just weeks before the city went on lockdown at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Growing up with hardships of his own, Floyd's husband oftentimes turned to his wife when seeking guidance or helping him cope.

After he died, the Newark educator said she was determined to now help children cope with their own adversities through her literacy program. 

“Tragically, he passed away, so we didn’t get a resolution, but I feel like the resolution that can come is through these children - helping me in my cause," she said. 

As Floyd continues to carry her program forward, she said the recognition and confidence she received from this year's award has sparked new ideas both inside and outside the classroom. 

"Receiving this award allowed me to look at myself and mature even more," she said. "It changed my perspective of people and not be so much in opposition to the people in charge. It’s about understanding and doing what I can do from where I am.” 

Beyond the halls of Weequahic High School, Floyd said she hopes to one day buy a building where she can set up a shelter for adolescent runaways, teenagers struggling with their identity, are in abusive situations and LGBTQ youth who don’t feel accepted by society. 

Alongside getting youth the professional support services and counseling they need, the educator in her hopes to introduce them to her love and passion for reading as well. 

"I want to allow literacy to be their freedom and escape," she said. "I want my program to be their alternative to drugs, the streets or suicide." 

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-08-04 03:33:35 -0700